What High Order Thinking (HOT) Questions can you ask in Organic Chemistry?

Recently, I assigned a Chemistry formative assessment for my grade 12; LS and GS students* in the Functional Groups chapter.

The main objectives of this chapter are:

  • Classify organic compounds into families based on their functional groups.
  • Identify the functional group(s) present in the organic compounds.
  • Name organic compounds from their structural formula.
  • Draw the condensed structural formula of organic compounds.

The most frequent exam questions when it comes to this chapter are:

  • Name the following organic compounds. Here, the condensed structural formula will be given.
  • Draw the condensed structural formula of the following compounds.
  • Identify the functional group in the following compounds.

As you can easily notice, the type of the aforementioned questions are first-order level thinking questions according to BLoom’s taxonomy.

As mentioned above, to evaluate students in this chapter, I usually draw organic compounds from the different families ( Alcohol, Aldehyde, ketone, Carboxylic acid, Ester, etc.) and ask students to nominate them or I ask them to draw the listed compounds ( Organic compounds from the different families). See sample quiz!

However, for this formative assessment, I wanted to shake up the ordinary. I wanted to find to what extent we can ask high-order thinking questions in this chapter. I wanted to check by myself the limitations and the points of strength of such type of questions. I performed the following quiz (HOT question) for my students.

Quiz: Organic Chemistry Nomenclature (HOT question)

Draw the condensed structural formula of 7 different organic compounds from the families you encountered in the Functional group chapter. Nominate them.

Strengths of this quiz (HOT question)

  • Reduces Paper consumption. Lebanon is suffering from an economical crisis that urged schools to ask for reducing papers consumption.
  • Fosters students’ independence and autonomy. Students were free to choose any compound and nominate it. They revealed verbally their enthusiasm to this open question.
  • Encourages and motivates students. One of them said when I orally asked the quiz question: ” This is cool”.
  • Helps students think of all the IUPAC nomenclature rules to avoid irrelevant choice of organic compounds.
  • Helps students process the material more deeply. Students will not only check the correct answer after the quiz. They want to know why the compound they have drew in the quiz doesn’t make sense and what modifications they have to do to make it correct. etc.
  • Reveals students’ misconceptions.

Limitation of this quiz (HOT question)

Time it needs to correct such a quiz as compared to the previous aforementioned quiz. It took me time to check each compound and the way students named it. Every time you have to count the chains and be sure they have considered the longest chain as the main one. etc. However, the joy of reading the variety of my students answers outweighs the time needed to grade them.

This quiz question can be extended to a home research:

  1. Does this compound occur naturally?
  2. List some of its properties.
  3. Where is it used? Does its usage have downsides? Do its usage-benefits outweigh the downsides? etc.

Here is a sample of my students’ answers. Always proud! Almost all of my students excelled in their answers. I have added a sample to show the variety of answers, and the possibility and the easiness of making mistakes!

Student answer Sheet

Enjoy teaching! And always think of it as a passion and not a profession! Or else, if you are teaching in Lebanon, you will quit it! See the reasons πŸ™‚

Note Point: In Lebanon Grade 12 is divided into four tracks: Life Sciences (LS), General Sciences (GS), Literature and Humanities (LH), and Sociology and Economics (SE). Upon completion of grade 12, students sit for the official Lebanese Baccalaureate exams in their respective tracks. Successful students receive the Lebanese Baccalaureate Certificate of Secondary Education (Shahaadat Al-Bakaalouriya al Lubnaaniya l’il-ta ‘liim al-Thaanawi – Al-Thanawiyah Al-Aamah Al-lubnaniah) or the Technical Baccalaureate (Al-Bakaalouriya al-Fanniya) (CRDP).

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